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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 14, 2006 8:08am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Favorite St. Stephen?

Folks: old timer with bias asks: which is your favorite St. Stephen?

I see at least four phases: earliest, with only 6-14-68 available to me (are there others of this type? If so, I would be Grateful [til I'm] Dead for a clue), are close to the original studio version; this one from 6-18 qualifies as one of my favorites (though quality is bad). Next phase is the 'fast' one, for latter half of 68 (pick one from Avalon shows of 12-13 October for an example...mmmm...). Then, third phase would be Live Dead era (69-70, with 9-19-70 a good example). Finally, the 'return' version in late 70s (thru to the end?) is the one I don't care for (loping, slow style).

Thoughts and reactions and picks? Thanks, all!

This post was modified by William Tell on 2006-11-14 16:08:30

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Poster: patkelley Date: Nov 14, 2006 8:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

I never really thought of St. Stephen eras. I guess you're right. They didnt play it up to the end though, the last time being in 1983.

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Nov 14, 2006 9:06am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

All-time favorite for me is 10-29-77.

The notes of most Stephens almost always sound a little stilted to me but for the exceptional versions where it just flows from Jerry's fingertips, and this one is like butter....First phrase comes off like a blues riff, it later turns into a sick rocking jam, and even the quiet parts have donna actually fusing nicely in harmony w/Jerry.

It's self contained, which i prefer to the "sandwiched" versions, which always seem to get clunky in the transition to or from NFA or whatever.

This one is pristine in its completeness, and even if you don't agree it's the "best ever" I'll bet dollars to donuts you'll place it in the top 5.

(while you're there listen to the equally incredible EYES, JACKSTRAW, MIGHTASWELL, BERTHA & LETITGROW)

Oh hell, just listen to the whole show.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 14, 2006 11:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

Getting it now, so I'll let you know about the donut purchasing...Thanks.

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 14, 2006 12:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

I've been waiting for someone to ask this one!

But I gotta run, so for now, I'll pick one - 10-12-1968.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 14, 2006 12:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

That is in my top three--is it the one that Bobby says "funniest thing I ever heard" following "...another one spills."? It is that one or the one from 13 Oct 68.

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 16, 2006 5:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

On 10-13-1968 Bobby laughs and says "yeah, that's right" after the "one man gathers what another man spills" line.

While good, I prefer the 10-12-1968 St. Stephen - check out the "whoah!" Garcia says just before the second solo (at 1:08).
As the "telephone" refrain starts at about 1:45, Bobby or someone shouts out, (what? I can't make it out).

Yes, 10-12-1968 is the one where Bobby shouts out "Funniest thing I ever heard!" after "...spills".

I love the sloppy but energetic solos by Jerry especially in this version, and The Eleven is smoking too.

Other favorite St. Stephens:

10-20-1968 - again nice solos from Jerry, before the tune's riffs became locked down as they did the following year.

12-31-1968 - a couple of interesting versions particularly the 8:20 min. one, possibly a rehearsal (the 8:20 has a few lyric flubs by Jerry, but the riffs are nice and loose).

1-25-1969 - heading towards the Live Dead style version, but playing is still loose and far from etched in stone. Possibly an early 16 track recording. 3-1-1969 sounds more worked out yet lacks luster by comparison. "Except in California!"

4-13-1969 - loose, relaxed, and a lot less lead riffing by Garcia, at first.

5-24-1969 - one of the less tamed versions from 1969. The frantic tempo of 1968 no more, but the song is still evolving. Check out the feedback starting at about 6:00 in

8-30-1969 - down to a snail's pace now, but the riffs are still inventive.

1-2-1970, 5-15-1970 - I keep these in my I-Tunes, but rarely play them... rigor mortis has begun to set the pace of St. Stephen.

8-6-1971 - currently the "newest" version by the original band I can enjoy. This show also a favorite AUD recording - high energy.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 17, 2006 3:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

Hey--thanks for all that info...I have all of these so I now I have to make a point of listening again with your input in mind...very cool.

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Poster: ksantilli Date: Nov 14, 2006 11:09am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

Easy:3-20-77 Nice and slow and mellow. Both Jerry and Donna mess up the words, it only adds to the feel of the tune.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 14, 2006 11:54am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

Great; will check on that one as I think I have it somewhere (went to a number of shows in 77 too). Thanks.

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 14, 2006 9:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

William Tell: well, you already know I love the MIT version, but another one is from the "Closing of Winterland" (1978-12-31) Jerry's guitar has the special "element" that evening and it goes straight to the core. The transition between each tune from Dark Star through St. Stephen are simply Grateful Dead. ...only problem is this has probably suffered from being overplayed.
Thanks a lot for the tips about the earlier versions; I had no idea there were different versions in such short time frames (early 68 vs. late 68 vs 69/70) --- AshesRising

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Poster: sydthecat Date: Nov 15, 2006 5:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

Okay, I had to think long and hard about this. I guess my favourites are from 1968-69 except for a few from Spring Tour 1976 (particularly the breakout). And even now I have no idea which show it is, and I'm not about to go through endless tapes to find it, but I suspect my favourite is from 1968---someone out there is going to nail this for me. Dr. Flashback maybe?

My personal absolute favourite St. Stephen is the one when, after they sing the line "One man gathers what another man spills.", Bobby yells "Except in California!". And that's why it's my favourite.

Yep. Sydthecat. Rock critic.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 15, 2006 6:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

Yes! I think that one is from the big run of fillmore shows that was released last year...? The "funniest thing I ever heard" line is from October, 68, I am sure...I have always listened for whether he says anything or not in that 'gap' since I heard it during the one in 68. Great stuff.

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Poster: Purple Gel Date: Nov 14, 2006 9:02am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

There are so many great versions, especially '68-'70, and I'll let some of the others here comment on their favorites from that era. One of my favorites is actually a later version, although it is not the slow loping style you refer to, but rather is almost a throwback to the earlier versions and is pretty unique for it's era.

1-22-78, McArthur Court, Eugene: this show is most famous for the "Close Encounters Jam", but listen to the whole Other One > Encounters > St Stephen > NFA, it's primal Dead at its best and really sounds more like 71 than '78. The Other One is one of the last of the truly drawn out versions, 16+ minutes with some very raw, sweet jammin'. The Close Encounters Jam speaks for itself, just Jerry, by himself in one of the greatest 3 minutes of his work. The St Stephen is incredible....it just morphs from the Close Encounters into the meat of the song, no slow intro, and it is raw and primitive. Personally, it is one of my absolute favorites, it is faster and more primal than any of the Stephens of it's era. And the NFA features some of the most unique Phil licks I've heard, he does this recurring descending bass line that is fantastic.

This post was modified by Purple Gel on 2006-11-14 17:02:31

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 14, 2006 11:52am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

Whewww...very nice. Thanks for the tip.

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Poster: stilldead77 Date: Nov 14, 2006 8:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

Thanks PG, I have so many gems in my library, I need so many reminders of why I dl them all in the first place.

Go Jerry - Awesome Stuff.

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Poster: RowMortimer Date: Nov 15, 2006 5:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

My favorite has always been 7/18/76, but Will you might not like it cause its the slowest of the slow.

To each their own, some have to gather while others spill...

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Nov 15, 2006 5:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Favorite St. Stephen?

still love the St stephen - nfa from cornell (ya ya ya - i mention it too much)